New Prison

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The New Prison was a prison located in the Clerkenwell area of central London between c.1617 and 1877 (it should not be confused with the New Gaol, another name sometimes applied to Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Southwark, south London).

The New Prison was used to house prisoners committed for examination before the police magistrates, for trial at the sessions, for want of bail, and occasionally on summary conviction.[1]

It was rebuilt three times: in 1773, 1818 (after being burnt down in the Gordon Riots of 1780), and in 1847. At this time it was renamed the Clerkenwell House of Detention, also known as Clerkenwell Prison.

Next-door was another prison, the Clerkenwell Bridewell for convicted criminals, built in around 1615. This closed in 1794, being superseded by nearby Coldbath Fields Prison.

Modern use of building remnants

During the Second World War part of the basement was altered to form a bomb shelter.[2]

Today, the site of the New Prison and the Clerkenwell Bridewell is occupied by the former Hugh Myddleton School (1893-c.1960), in Bowling Green Lane. A number of the original underground spaces and cells remain and are used for office space or storage. A 2007 adaptation of Oliver Twist used these spaces for filming in the July 2007.

In 2009, the site was being redeveloped by developer Sans Walk, and the vaults of the building (formerly used for the reception of prisoners, medical examination and baths as well as kitchens) were accessed by members of the IStructE History Study Group.[2]

Famous inmates


  1. Old towns of England, London in 1839, Part Six - Police and Prisons
  2. 2.0 2.1 New Civil Engineer (2009) "House of Detention reveals its spectacular underground past", 21 April 2009 -

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